It’s getting hot outside and what better way to enjoy the heat than to sizzle a BBQ. But how do you make sure your alfresco eating is as healthy as possible? Rob Kemp seeks out the ultimate in nourishing, nutritious fayre so you can become the healthy griller-king.
“Protein, carbohydrate and fats are all needed by the endurance athlete; the trick is to get them in the right amounts, and BBQs can be a minefield of sugary condiments and sauces and fatty cuts of meat,” warns Drew Price, Multipower Sportsfood registered nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach (multipower.com/uk). Another BBQ issue is not paying attention and nuking the meat – this creates greater potential for free radical damage to your insides – or rather your cells. “The main tip here is avoid burning your meat,” advises Price. “Light the BBQ early, and use lots of charcoal. Doing both will mean you’re not going to rush your cooking. Wait for the coals to turn white and don’t cook directly over them but just off to the side.” That said, the key to keeping your BBQ healthy and wholesome lies with the ingredients.
HERO: MAKE YOUR OWN Protein is key to maintaining muscle mass and it also spikes your metabolism due to the greater amount of energy needed to metabolise it compared to carbs and fat. So for your BBQ you need to choose the right meat. This is ideally extra lean steak mince. “For flavour and texture add a little lean pork mince. Each burger should consist of 130g of beef mince and 30g or so of pork,” recommends Price. Mix the meats, adding a small pinch of salt and one grind of pepper and mix again. Press firmly into burger shapes about 1cm thick. Cook for about four minutes a side until done.
Nutrition Info: Protein 35-40g, Fat 6g, Carbs 0g
“If you want to mix things up you can make a Tex Mex burger – add a little cumin, some chopped jalapenos and chunks of Double Gloucester cheese with chives and onions,” says Price. “Or you can go for a Greek burger with diced black olives and a little diced feta cheese. Whichever you do, eat with lots of salad. Leerdammer Lightlife cheese makes for a great reduced fat and higher protein topping (271 calories of which fat 17g, protein 29.5g, carbs 0.1g, per 100g).”
VILLAIN: OFF THE SHELF BURGERS One reason alone to make your own burgers is that unlike shop-bought ones you can manage the salt input. According to campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health you could have a whopping two-thirds of your maximum daily salt intake with just one beef burger (for example, Tesco’s Barbecue Ultimate Beef Burgers contain 2g of salt per burger).
HERO: SUPER-STRENGTH SAUSAGES “The trick when buying sausages is to look first at the ingredients and then their nutritional breakdown,” suggests Price. “Ideally you want a lean sausage that has few ingredients and lots of protein – this shows that the producers have used decent cuts of meat, not the usual face and trotters and have avoided cheap fillers.” Cook your sausages slowly turning often and avoid cooking them directly over the coals – pile the coals up in a cone and cook to the side.
- 500g lean pork mince
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ⅓ tsp finely crumbled dried sage
Makes five patties.
“Just like making a burger take the pork mince and stir in the other ingredients, form into burgers around 1cm thick and cook for four minutes per side,” says Price.
Nutrition Info: Protein 18g, Fat 4.5g, Carbs 0g
VILLAIN: SATURATED SAUSAGES A Cancer Research report from 2013 warns of the dangers of a heightened risk of stomach cancer linked to consuming too much, poor quality sausage meat with too much added salt. If you’re going to use shop-bought ones then those with other ingredients (such as leek or apple) will at least have less meat and therefore less fat – or buy leaner poultry sausages.
HERO: LAMB KOFTE – THE ALL-CONQUERING KEBAB Lamb mince is a great source of Vitamin D – which is essential for peak athletic performance, recovery and bone strength. “It’s also quite fatty though so seek out the extra lean variety,” says Price.
- 500g of lamb mince
- 2 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 a tsp of chilli flakes
Makes four skewers.
“Form this into sausages around skewers and flatten them out. A tip is to use old dinner knives, as the flat shape holds the kebab better.” Cook for eight minutes per side turning frequently.
Nutrition Info: Protein 15g, Fat 8g, Carbs 0g
VILLAIN: SAUCED UP SEGMENTS Meat should be marinated a long time before cooking for added flavour (as opposed to smothering it with barbecue sauce on the BBQ). Placing a sauce soaked segment on the grill will just add greater amounts of sugar and calories to your kebab or grilled chicken breast.
HERO: WEDGES WITH AN EDGE – SPICY SWEET POTATO WEDGES “By making chunky wedges you reduce the amount of the chip’s surface area in touch with the fat compared to the volume of the chip,” say Price. “Sweet potatoes – though just as carb heavy as white ones – have a little more in the way of beta carotene, vitamin C and folate.”
- 1 washed and dried sweet potato
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp onion salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Cut a sweet potato lengthwise into 6-10 wedges, depending on the size of the potato. Place in a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes on a medium heat (gas mark 3/180OF). Remove from the oven, sprinkle on the seasonings and herbs, carefully mix the wedges up again and cook on medium high (gas mark 5-7/375-449O) for another 5 minutes.
VILLIAN: FRIED POTATO CRISPS/CHIPS OK these were never going to get a look-in around the healthy heroes but the key concern among corn chips, potato crisps, tortilla chips and so on is that they’re so very high in unhealthy trans fats – a side effect of the cooking process which is linked to high levels of bad cholesterol in humans.
Bits on the side
Keep your healthy options flowing with this selection of side dish recipes from Price.
- 1 medium avocado (remove the flesh and keep the stone)
- 1 tomato finely diced
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp of mixed Tex Mex spices
- 1 tsp lime juice
Makes four servings.
“Mash the avocado flesh with a fork and mix all the other ingredients in. For extra points add a tbsp of fresh, diced coriander. Stick the stone in the centre to stop the guacamole turning black.”
Nutrition Info: Protein 1g, Fat 7g, Carbs 6g
LOW FAT, HIGH PROTEIN CHEESE & CHIVE DIP
- 2 tbsp quark (dairy product)
- 2 tbsp yoghurt
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tbsp fresh chives
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Mix all the ingredients together and serve.
BUTTERED BAKED BANANA
- Whole banana, peeled
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp butter
Place the banana on a rectangle of tin foil. Place the other ingredients on top of the banana and seal the foil by crimping on all sides. Place on a less hot part of the BBQ – usually as the coals are dying off, and leave for 10 minutes to slowly cook. Eat directly from the foil, being careful not to burn your mouth.
WORDS Rob Kemp
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